AmorePacific is revamping products for SE Asia

South Korean cosmetics maker AmorePacific is revamping products to suit Muslim and darker-skinned women in Southeast Asia.

It is pushing harder into Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with a line-up that takes into account skin tones, the region’s humidity and the need for Muslim women to wash their faces five times a day before prayers. The Seoul-based company last year generated about 90 per cent of its revenue in South Korea and China, where many women are fairer-skinned and the weather more variable, reports The National in the UAE.

“The diversity of Southeast Asia was a challenge,” says AmorePacific’s Southeast Asia head Robin Na.

Southeast Asia generated just 150 billion won (US$132.9 million) in sales for AmorePacific last year, or less than 3 per cent of its total. The company aims to triple that, given the region’s cosmetics and skincare market is expected to reach $9.6 billion in sales by 2020, according to Euromonitor.

The move is spurred in part by tensions with China over South Korea’s hosting of the US Thaad missile system, which led to Chinese travel agencies stopping sales of tour packages to South Korea.

“The political conflict between China and South Korea is posing a serious threat to the business of South Korean beauty exporters,” says Euromonitor research analyst Sunny Um in Singapore.

Beautiful diverse woman with gorgeous face, dark luscious hair and glowing skin on her bare shoulder

Five brands

AmorePacific’s share of the Asia-Pacific cosmetics market doubled to 6 per cent between 2011 and 2016, overtaking Estee Lauder, Euromonitor figures show. It is now focusing its efforts in Southeast Asia primarily through five brands: Etude House, Innisfree, Laneige, Mamonde and Sulwhasoo. AmorePacific has about 250 directly managed stores in the region and plans to open another 150, says Na.

The company opened a research centre in Singapore this year and is investing 110 billion won in a production unit in Johor, scheduled to open in 2020.

By 2019, the annual global spending by Muslim consumers will reach $73 billion, according to the Singapore-based Institute of Asian Consumer Insight. More than 60 per cent of the world’s Muslims live in Asia.

L’Oreal is also tapping into the Muslim cosmetics market with a halal-certified factory in Indonesia.

As well as using focus groups, AmorePacific representatives have also visited the homes of Muslim customers, mostly in Kuala Lumpur, to better understand their makeup and skincare management routines. The customers were enlisted by market-research firms such as Nielsen.

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